News Analysis |
“India has no role in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal said at the weekly media briefing while responding to a query about Pakistan’s position on India’s part in the reconciliation process.
The FO spokesman in his briefing acknowledged that Pakistan has a difficult relationship with India. He said that despite Pakistan’s efforts for normalization, no concrete progress could be achieved in ties with India. “You all know that India is not willing to engage with Pakistan,” he reminded.
Pakistan affirmed its continued support for the Afghan peace and reconciliation process as it stepped up efforts for salvaging the talks between the United States and Taliban.
This statement by Foreign Office Spokesperson was in sharp contrast to what Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told the National Assembly last month. “Since India is present in Afghanistan, its cooperation in this regard (facilitating a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict) will also be required,” he had told legislators.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met with US Special Envoy on Afghanistan and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to facilitate a dialogue between Afghan Taliban and USA. He stressed upon the importance of ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ peace process but failed to mention India’s role in ending Afghan war.
Soon after President Trump took office, he announced his much anticipated South Asia policy in which he encouraged India to play its role in Afghanistan’s nation-building process.
The US President lamented Pakistan for ‘terror financing’ and supporting the ‘miscreants’ (Taliban) and harboring their leadership inside its tribal areas. US South Asia policy irked Pakistan since it had played its part in controlling cross border movement of insurgents and rooting out its leadership from hideouts in FATA and Balochistan.
The Zarb-e-Azb military operation launched in North Waziristan by Pakistan Army had broken the back of terrorists and their facilitators and the government restored its writ in these areas. The terrorist attacks inside Pakistan reduced considerably and the Obama Administration appreciated Pakistan’s role in clamping down upon anti-state elements.
However, Trump administration unexpectedly tried to rule out Pakistan’s sacrifices and efforts in eliminating the terror threat from Pak-Afghan border region while accusing it of backing Afghan insurgents. It asked India to invest heavily in Afghan civil-military infrastructure and help the US reverse the insurgent gains in that country.
Pakistan, in the aftermath of blame game and ‘do more’ rhetoric, distanced itself from US war in Afghanistan and became part of a regional effort to end the Afghan war. Islamabad encouraged, initiated and facilitated a multi-lateral peace process in which China, Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan strived to find a negotiated end to the Afghan war.
The statement of Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson that India has no role in Afghanistan is a harsh reality which it must accept sooner than later.
This smart move on Pakistan’s part achieved multi-faceted objectives. Firstly, it discredited India as a major stakeholder in Afghanistan and secondly and more importantly it dissuaded the US to sideline Pakistan in finding a solution of the Afghan war.
US President surprisingly, late last year, wrote a letter to Pakistan’s new Prime Minister to play his role in finding a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan. Analysts argue that this move exhibited US frustration with both the Afghan and Indian governments who failed to press hard on insurgents and reversing their gains.
Pakistan is now facilitating a dialogue between the Afghan Taliban and the US government. Pakistan affirmed its continued support for the Afghan peace and reconciliation process as it stepped up efforts for salvaging the talks between the United States and Taliban.
Meetings between US officials and Taliban were held in Gulf countries which have now stalled due to Taliban refusal to talk directly with the Afghan government. However, Pakistan is pressing hard to ensure that the dialogue process is resumed.
Read more: Afghan peace, a shared responsibility
The US acceptance of Pakistan’s role in ending the Afghan war has frustrated New Delhi which now seems irrelevant in the international efforts to the Afghan war. The statement of Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson that India has no role in Afghanistan is a harsh reality which it must accept sooner than later.